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February 22, 2017 / 26 Shevat, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘country’

Five Pairs of Brothers and Sisters Make Aliyah and Enlist in the Army Together

9 Tishri 5773 – September 25, 2012

Every year, young soldiers from overseas are enlisted into the Israeli Defense Forces through the Garin Tzabar program. The distance from their families and friends combined with the acclimation to their new country makes their service especially challenging. This year, however, at least for five pairs of brothers from the United States and Australia, the experience should be somewhat less difficult.

This year’s group, numbering 300 young people, is the biggest since the project began in 1991. In addition, for the first time, it includes ten young people that will be spending their stint in service with a brother or a sister.

Jack and Ariela from Chicago have an older brother that already made aliyah and served in the IDF as a lone soldier. They’re now fulfilling a dream by following in his footsteps.

Twins, Effy and Hezi from Sydney grew up in a strong pro-Israel home. Their parents are now planning to join them in Israel.

Udi Shani, Director of the Defense Ministry, met two members of the group on Sunday night and told them: “I bless you upon your decision to come to Israel and be inducted into the IDF, to experience for yourselves the lives of Israeli citizens and to contribute to Israel’s security and success, as well as to act as pioneers for your families.”

Garin Tzabar is a program that assists Jewish and Israeli youth who have been living out of the country for many years, mostly from North America, and who are interested in making aliyah and serving in the IDF. The program begins with activities of the Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) movement in their countries. When these young people arrive in Israel, they are placed in an adoptive kibbutz, taught Hebrew, taken on tours of the country and ultimately are inducted into the IDF.

More than 70 percent of the participants in this program remain living in Israel after their military service, and close to percent of their families generally follow them and move to Israel.

CLARIFICATION: This article stated erroneously that Twins Effy and Hezi from Sydney are not Jewish. We apologize for the mistake. We received an email from their family that they are indeed—and have always been—Jewish. We hope that this correction will rectify our error.

U.S. Graduates Seek Work in Israel

9 Tishri 5773 – September 24, 2012

When Joanna Lieberman was preparing for graduation from Cornell University five years ago, her career options were unsettling. Dreaming of a job in the hospitality industry but lacking a degree in the field, she realized she needed hands-on work experience before pursuing a full-time position. Lieberman, along with thousands of other American college graduates, turned to Israel’s growing employment market for an answer.

“People are realizing the opportunities in Israel to get hands-on career experience in industries that are doing cutting-edge work,” she said. “Israel is known for its booming tourism industry and it seemed like the perfect place for me to test out working in the field.”

Lieberman’s hands-on work experience came from working with Career Israel, Masa Israel Journey’s five-month professional internship program that allows college graduates to explore their fields of interest. In addition to a life spent embracing her Jewish heritage, she points to her involvement with Israel-on-campus activities as a driving factor behind moving to Israel after she graduated. Participating in her Hillel’s Israel activities, she said, kept her feeling connected to the country.

Lieberman’s story is far from uncommon; since 2008, more than 2,600 graduates have taken internship positions in Israel with Masa Israel’s rapidly growing program. It’s no surprise that students are looking to Israel for career opportunities, in light of the ongoing weak domestic job market in the US. A recent Associated Press report found that more than half of America’s recent college graduates are unemployed or working in jobs that do not use their skills.

“As students and recent graduates continue to face a difficult job market, they are looking for ways to continue developing their career and also to stand out,” Masa Israel Director of Communications Miranda Bogen said. “Coming to Israel on internship and even volunteer programs offers them international professional experiences that are usually much more substantial than entry-level positions in the US.”

Between the underwhelming number of job opportunities at home and a love for Israel, the decision to work in Israel has been easy for some recent college graduates, including University of Florida graduate Robert Yanks.

Yanks was bitten by the Israel bug after he went on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip organized by his school’s Hillel. Being surrounded by his classmates in Israel not only solidified his love for the country, but also landed him a job offer in Israel. A friend Yanks met on Birthright put him in contact with internet-startup company Moolta, and soon after he was hired as its regional marketing director.

“I wanted to choose a job in Israel to experience a different way of living and to travel before life became too hectic,” he said. “I think it’s amazing what the country has accomplished; it’s almost a miracle in the middle of a desert. Just being able to support the country by living here may have made my decision to come a little easier.”

Yanks is three months deep into his Israel stay and will return to the U.S. in November to launch domestic marketing initiatives for the company. He says his work in Israel has broadened his professional knowledge while simultaneously allowing him a living experience unlike any other.

“There’s a different feeling here unlike any other country I’ve been to and that’s what makes Israel so appealing to the American student,” Yanks said. “I think the main reason why students take jobs in Israel after college is because it’s so easy to fall in love with the country and its people. Life moves at a different pace here. People of Israel know how to truly appreciate everything around them, and they all realize that nothing is simply given.”

Unlike Yanks, who realized his interest in Israel toward the end of college, Illinois State University graduate Tess Sevelow-Lee made her Israel decision early on during her extensive Israel-on-campus involvement.

An active StandWithUs campus leader, Sevelow-Lee spent her college career creating and distributing an ‘Israel 101’ presentation which teachers and faculty used to introduce Israel to Jewish and non-Jewish students.

“My involvement in college was the catalyst for my move,” she said. “I realized that while I was in the States, just talking about my love for this country wasn’t enough, I needed to be here.”

Enraged Zionists Burn Apple stores!

8 Tishri 5773 – September 23, 2012

Violent demonstrations broke out in front of Apple stores all over the world when furious Zionists found out that the Apple Maps app on its new iOS 6 operating system does not show any capital for the State of Israel.

“It’s outrageous,” said one who called himself ‘Moshe’, as he heaved a brick at the stylish store in Manhattan. “Ya tapuchim bnei zonot,” he shouted, running from police officers. Others poured gasoline on a huge effigy of an iPad and set it alight while singing hatikvah.

When it became clear that not only was there no capital shown on the map of Israel, but that World Clock listed ‘Jerusalem’ without any country — the only city so listed — the fury reached a fever pitch, with Apple ‘geniuses’ running for their lives as mobs of enraged Jews broke into the stores, waving signs calling for the beheading of CEO Tim Cook and the reversal of the verdict in the Samsung patent suit.

“You can’t insult Zionism and get away with it,” said one rioter at Apple HQ in Cupertino, wearing a ski mask underneath his kippa. “We’re all Android users now!”

*** In case you are reading this in an Arab country and miss the satirical intent, I’ll make it clear that there were in reality no Zionist riots, despite the fact that Apple seems to be taking the position that the Jewish homeland has no capital, and that Jerusalem is located on Mars. We will give Apple a few days to fix this clearly inadvertent bug in its new software, and to apologize. I’m sure they will.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

The Staggering Costs of a Special Needs Child

6 Tishri 5773 – September 21, 2012

“It’s a boy!”

While these three words can be a source of one’s greatest happiness in life, it can also be bittersweet for those who give birth to children with special needs, when the parents think about the emotional challenges they and their children will face throughout their lives.

The spectrum of special-needs children ranges from mental to physical to psychological and sometimes all three. A 2008 study by the United States Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 14 percent of children in this country fit into this category, and about 20 percent of families have at least one special-needs child. The definition of a special-needs child can range from one who is diagnosed with a mild learning disability to one who has a life-threatening condition, such as cystic fibrosis. This article will focus on the more severe categories.

Aside from the emotional toll it takes on these families, the financial strain such a diagnosis puts on the family is often overlooked. Goldie S., a mother of a special-needs child, says that the list of added expenses seems endless. Tuition, for instance, costs a great deal more at special-needs schools than at mainstream institutions. Although the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires that special-needs children be provided by the local school district with a “free and appropriate education (FAPE),” the provisions that are offered to parents often fail to meet their child’s needs. This compels parents to enroll their child in a private school, or sometimes fight to move their child to a school in another district. This is what happened to Goldie S., whose district was unwilling to transfer her child. While she fought successfully to have the child moved, she had to pay significant attorney fees in the process.

Similarly, children are often entitled to various therapies, such as physical, occupational, and speech. Sometimes, though, the district evaluates a child and denies the child these services. Parents who feel that their child needs extra help are then forced to pay the therapists out of their own pockets.

Sending special-needs children away for the summer is another great expense. A six-week stay in one upstate New York camp can cost about $12,000, which is three times more than the average sleep-away camp. This is due to the one-on-one care that is often required, as well as the additional medical staff.

Additionally, often these children require expensive equipment and medications. While the family’s medical insurance may cover some costs, parents often find that much of what their child needs is not covered by their plan, and that they need to fight their insurance company to pay what they feel they are due.

Beyond this, some of the extra expenses that are often perceived to be insignificant are the ones that can make a family’s financial situation unbearable. For example, special-needs children require more frequent doctor visits than most children. This means that one or both parents will frequently end up missing work, with a possible impact on their pay, in order to take their child to the hospital and medical offices. Furthermore, if these visits are far from one’s home, out-of-pocket transportation costs can also quickly add up, between gas, tolls, and parking.

In addition, they may require many specialists in many fields. If the child has an abundance of medical issues, it is hard to find the right fit with these specialists and often parents have to go “out of network” with their insurance companies in order to use these doctors. The costs of out of network co-pays can become significant.

Parents of wheelchair-bound children will also incur significant added costs. The wheelchairs cost several thousand dollars apiece, and there is often the need to install custom-built ramps in and around the home to make it wheelchair-accessible. A specialized van with a powered wheelchair ramp or lift installed costs about twice as much as a standard one.

Even mobile special-needs children can generate significant additional expenses. If, for instance, the doctor recommends specialized exercise equipment, the parents find that the cost can add up quickly.

Goldie S. points out that food can be a major expense when a child is placed on a special diet. One who is lactose intolerant will need to drink other types of milk, which is more expensive than cow’s milk. For children on gluten-free diets, the cost for many food staples, including bread, cake and pasta and products, run typically at about double the price of the common wheat-based varieties.

The Graveyard of Neoconservatism

6 Tishri 5773 – September 21, 2012

While Maureen Dowd warns that the neo-conservatives are coming back, an event surely worse than the siege of American embassies and the murder of American ambassadors, she can rest her head easy on that account. The neo-conservatives died  in the siege of Benghazi, much like Mubarak they are still around, but completely irrelevant in the way that most ideas are once they lose their meaning.

Dowd would know better than to celebrate the death of neo-conservativism, if she understood what that really meant, beyond the shadowy menace that her dinner party guests tell her about before the main course is served.

In the Middle East, neo-conservatives offered a middle ground between appeasement and belligerence that blended Cold War politics and Third World democracy outreach. The ideas that made so much sense when former liberals were confronting the nightmarish repressive powers of the Soviet Union met their end in the Middle East for reasons that neither they nor their ideological enemies can explain.

Democracy only works when the character of the people is better than the character of their government. It works very badly when the character of the people is actually worse and the existing system serves much the same purpose as bars in a tiger cage do. The neo-conservatives were unprepared to grapple with such troubling notions. They were very methodical in laying out the moral case against Saddam Hussein, but they were unprepared to cope with the notion that Iraq’s ruler might have reflected the moral level of a significant portion of Iraqis.

The Baath Party, unlike the Bolsheviks, was not an external ideology imposed on the Iraqis. Like most regional Socialist movements, its ideology was a fig leaf for tyranny and tribal alliances. Saddam was a cheap mass murdering thug with dreams of even bigger empires and atrocities. Removing him made a certain amount of geopolitical sense, but replacing him with purple fingers and democratic elections was never going to lead to a better Iraq.

Many neo-conservatives backed Obama’s own democracy experiments in the Arab Spring and his invasion of Libya because they seemed to resemble their own ideas. But Obama had actually reached back for Carter’s Green Belt playbook with the goal of defusing Islamic terrorism by giving their supposedly more moderate Islamist cousins what they wanted– their own countries to play with.

This wasn’t neo-conservatism, though it looked a lot like it, enough that Maureen Dowd should have blushed before beginning a tirade about the neo-conservative threat, it was appeasement politics dressed up in the same old democracy colors. The tyrants we were overthrowing were men who had made deals with us, and who were for the most part fairly benign by the standards of the region. That is what made them easy targets for the knife in the bag and the Islamist mob in the square.

By the light of burning embassies, it is somewhat redundant to even mention that this policy failed. Turning Islamists into rulers has upgraded their “extreme” wings from terrorists to militias and the September 11 attacks were an announcement that everyone, except the idiots in Washington DC still wailing about the video, understood. When armed militias and mobs besiege your embassies and plant their flags on your walls, it’s a territorial claim, not a protest rally about a dead pedophile.

The Arab Spring was the red line of democracy promotion. It pulled the trigger that Condoleezza Rice had been nervous about pulling and it did it to disastrous effect. And aside from the death toll, what all that noise really means is that neo-conservatism of the democracy intervention flavor is dead. The only people who still believe that local democracy works also believe that the Muslim Brotherhood is misunderstood and that we need to kill the Bill of Rights to appease Muslims. These are not, for the most part, neo-conservatives, they are the sort of appeasers who show up at Maureen Dowd’s dinner parties and at White House press conferences.

The death of neo-conservatism, unmourned as it may be, leaves few options between belligerence and appeasement. The neo-conservatives held out hope for a more rational order that fused the classic idealism of FDR, Ike and JFK as a formula for a foreign policy that would allow American to transform its enemies, rather than bombing them to bits.

That was why so many Democrats, especially in the most conservative Senate, got on board the George W. Bush express. Much as the left’s revisionist history might try to paint Bush as a wacky cowboy off on a shooting spree, his policy was an extension of what Clinton had done, and before liberal political calculation got in the way, had brought the senior leadership of the Democratic Party on board… not to mention Tony Blair.

What we are witnessing is the death of any such middle ground in the Middle East’s graveyard of idealism. The future will, as it turns out, not be one of purple fingers and people cheerfully accepting elections as a means of political representation, rather than a non-violent way of seizing power and then making sure that no one else can win an election again. The same mechanisms that kept Saddam in power made Maliki’s war on Sunnis and Kurds equally inevitable.

The Muslim world is not individualistic, nor is it made up of individuals seeking their own version of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is a collectivist place, even more so than the United States is becoming, where tribe and religion matter because they are the only ways that individuals get ahead. We were not dealing with meritocracies, not even the damaged affirmative action kind we run now, but with tribal systems with a smattering of modern politics on top, where local nationalism is also economic survival. The family’s social capital counts for much more than empty talk about freedom and old hatreds against neighbors can be pursued by men who wear army or police uniforms, but who identify with old vendettas more than with new governments.

We have already seen the left’s answer to neo-conservativism, if we hadn’t already seen it earlier in the Carter years. Shameless appeasement tethered to a reflexive hatred of the United States where all violence is incorporated into blowback theory. The Carter Doctrine rewards the worst enemies in the hopes that doing so will eventually make them our friends and blames all setbacks on new anger for some real or imaginary offense by us. The Carter Doctrine is now the Obama Doctrine and it’s why our embassies are burning brightly in the night.

The only good thing about the Carter/Obama Doctrine is that it cannot be sustained for long, not because our boys and girls in DC and the UN can’t keep it up, but because the Islamists won’t let them. The Salafi raids ruined a perfectly good Arab Spring because the raiders couldn’t resist rubbing the noses of the infidels in their own weakness. And those raids will only escalate because Islam, like a steroidal weightlifter, is so insecure that it constantly needs to show off its power.

But that doesn’t leave much of an alternative on the conservative side. Republicans liked neo-conservativism because it was idealistic, and by the standards set by the decaying left, had become conservative. It allowed Republicans to cheer American Exceptionalism as the solution to all global problems, without understanding that its aggressive good cheer was completely misplaced.

Exceptionalism is exceptional. If American Exceptionalism can be plonked down in Iraq or Afghanistan, then it isn’t exceptional anymore. And in fact, it can’t be. The United States has conquered and reconstructed several countries before, and only the ones with a tradition of democracy that predated the need to conquer them, are worth mentioning today. And none of them are little Americas and have, at best, a conflicted relationship with the United States.

Romney is still echoing vaguely neo-conservative talking points, but it’s doubtful that he, or anyone, besides McCain, really wants to invade Syria for the Muslim Brotherhood. Americans didn’t want the Libyan War, and aside from some of senate fixtures like McCain, few Republicans really want to do it either.

The second set of September 11 attacks may have finally begun convincing Republicans that Muslims really don’t want to be Americans and they aren’t going to be turned into Americans any time soon. It has not quite led them to the logical conclusions to be drawn from that, but it still might. The death of the middle ground of neo-conservativism leaves few options but appeasement and belligerence, not democracy belligerence, but plain old fashioned saber rattling.

If Muslims can’t be taught to be nice people and won’t leave us alone, then there are two alternatives. Give them what they want or give them hell. Obama has tried the former with the expected results. The window on giving them hell is slowly starting to creak open, though I wouldn’t expect many prominent Republican politicians to start talking like Patton any time soon.

The Israeli example has demonstrated that Muslims never miss an opportunity to sabotage their own appeasers. It’s why the Israeli left has a death grip on unelected government positions, but is about as popular with the voters as cholera on a stick. The American left could learn from its example, but if it could learn from examples, it wouldn’t be the left. Instead it banked its political capital on appeasing Muslims and if it gets a second term to do so, it will be that much closer to becoming completely unelectable– especially when Muslims decide to celebrate another September 11 in an even flashier way and with a larger death toll.

The Israeli left did everything possible to appease Muslim terrorists and the terrorists repaid them by politically destroying them with constant violence. Now Obama is on the receiving end of the same treatment and had he been as familiar with the Muslim world as he claimed to be, then he would have known to expect that. And the same process will likely kill Eurabia in its own cradle.

The ball is in the court of the right. It can choose between fake moderation and assertive action. It can rediscover the military as a force for defending the country, rather than a means of introducing Muslims to the concept of elections, and it will be pursuing the popular course. But to do that it will have to believe in America, rather in the universal goodness of human nature and the other pablum that led us into this mess.

People are not interchangeable, apart from the governments. Governments reflect the people. No country will last for very long under a government that does not reflect its national character unless that government is backed by foreign armies. It is best to treat other governments as reflective of their peoples and to treat their peoples as reflective of their government. And it is best to keep a wary distance from any people and country that are under a system too different from our own for our own safety.

Above all else, it is important to make clear to our own people and to theirs, that we have borders and nations for a reason. That if foreign nations and peoples would like to use force to tell us what movies we can make, then we will use force to tell them what protests they can have, and that in a contest of force, we will win.

It is time for a new way, a way in which Muslims will no longer have to learn about America and Americans will no longer have to learn about Islam, where we will give up on winning each other’s hearts and minds, and stick to watching each other’s property lines. That is the argument that needs to be advanced in the face of Obama’s catastrophic Arab Spring failures and the alternative to it is four more years of terror and appeasement.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Despite Media Pile-On, Romney Isn’t Toast

5 Tishri 5773 – September 21, 2012

So while some of us were celebrating the Jewish New Year and taking the last couple of days off from politics, it appears a video has more or less decided the election.

That’s the assumption of much of the mainstream media about the impact of the release of the video of Mitt Romney speaking back in May at a private fundraiser about the 47 percent of the country that doesn’t pay taxes. They think this means it’s time to put a fork in the Republican candidate. They believe the pile-on from both the Democrats and their media allies will be enough to effectively push Romney far enough behind the president that he will never be able to make it up in the weeks remaining to him.

This is, to understate matters, something of a self-fulfilling prophecy since the reason the video is considered to be such a big deal is because it has been covered as an earthshaking gaffe that ought to spike Romney’s hopes of ever winning the presidency.

The assumption that Romney has been fatally damaged is incorrect. The initial reaction to the video clips will probably damage Romney, but it will not affect the bulk of his support in a race that is still close.

The reason the video hurts is that it played into Obama’s greatest advantage: a pliant media quick to dismiss his blunders but sure to make a meal out of any of Romney’s gaffes. But it is time for the Romney campaign to understand it must exploit the fact that half the country believes the liberal media are out to get him. Romney must tell the country that it must not let the chattering classes decide the election before they’ve had a chance to vote.

Let’s specify that Romney’s statement was dumb. No presidential candidate should ever make such a sweeping generalization. Romney has a habit of making gaffes and this was yet another example of one of his weak points as a leader. Yet for all of the fact that he painted those who don’t pay income taxes with a broad and inaccurate brush, his comment was still based in a correct interpretation of the philosophical divide between the approaches of the two parties to the entitlement welfare state that has played such a destructive role in American society.

But as much as some of the carping about the Romney campaign from Republicans has been justified, let’s understand the reason this video is being seen as the turning point in the election is that the liberal media, determined to reelect the president, are saying so.

This is the same media after all that were faced with a similar gaffe four years ago when Obama was caught on tape at one of his private fundraisers making similarly stupid comments dismissing much of America as “clinging to guns and religion” because of their fears and small-minded natures.

While that video did not go unreported at the time, the reaction from much of the press was indifference. Right-wing bloggers and columnists screamed about it but it was not treated as front-page news in mainstream newspapers. The explanation for that is not exactly a mystery. If most reporters and their editors didn’t play it that big it was because most of them shared Obama’s contempt for religion and guns and those that cling to them.

Let’s also remember that the president’s “you didn’t build that” gaffe has been endlessly defended and rationalized by the media instead of being covered as an open and shut case of his being out of touch with much of the country’s beliefs. The president’s open microphone moment earlier in the year, in which he promised Russia’s president that he could be more “flexible” in accommodating Moscow after his reelection, was also underplayed.

Any Republican who runs for president and is surprised to find the deck is stacked against him in the media doesn’t deserve the office. But that doesn’t mean Romney should take this double standard lying down. Rather than play defense on this issue, the Romney campaign must make it clear it intends to treat this story as being more about media bias than about the candidate’s stupidity. If played right, that could not only jazz up a GOP base that despises the media, but put the Republican’s tormenters on the defensive.

Jews Less than 0.2% of World Population

5 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

According to a study by Hebrew University’s Professor Sergio DellaPergola, the global Jewish population reached 13.75 million in the past year, with an increase of 88,000 people. Israel’s Maariv newspaper published excerpts of the study last week, reporting that one out of every 514 people in the world is Jewish, less than 0.2 percent of mankind.

About 43% of the world’s Jewish community lives in Israel, making Israel the country with the largest Jewish population. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics reported on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, 5773, that the total population of Israel in 2012 grew to nearly 8 million. About 73% of the population is native born.

The Israeli Jewish population stands at 5,978,600, up 1.8%; the Arab population numbers at 1,636,600, up 2.4%; and the rest of the population including Christians and non-Jews reached 318,000 people, up 1.3%. Israel’s Jewish population makes up 75% of the state’s total people.

In all, the Jewish state’s population increased by 96,300 people in 2012, a growth rate that did not diverge from the average rate in the past eight years.

Part of Israel’s population increase comes in part of the new immigrants that have arrived to the country. In 2011, Israel welcomed 16,892 new immigrants as citizens, with the largest populations coming from Russia (3,678), followed by Ethiopia (2,666), United States (2,363), Ukraine (2,051) and France (1,775).

Israel’s population is relatively young compared to populations in other western countries, with 28% of the population aged 0-14. Israel’s life expectancy is one of the highest of the international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) 34 member states, with Jewish males’ life expectancy 4.2 years higher than their Arab counterparts.

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics also found that 40% of Israel’s population lives in the center of the country, with Tel Aviv as Israel’s densest region, while 17 % lives in the north, 14% in the south, 12% in Jerusalem and Haifa, and 4% in Judea and Samaria.

Over 47,885 couples married in Israel in the past year, of which 75% were Jewish and 21% Muslim. In 2011, there were 166, 296 babies born in Israel.

The world’s principal religious populations divide as follows according to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 2012: Christians at 33% or 2.1 billion, Muslims at 24% or 1.65 billion, Hindus at 14% or 900 million, and Buddhists at 6% or 350 million. At least one billion people in the world do not ascribe to any religion at all.

House Members: Holder and Clinton Considering Release of ‘Blind Sheikh’

5 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

In a strongly worded letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton, eight members of congress have demanded that a request to release Omar Abdel-Rahman from federal prison be rejected.  Abdel-Rahman, known as the “blind sheikh,” inspired the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and is serving a life sentence for his role in a plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.

It is believed that the unrest blanketing much of the Middle East last week was inspired at least in part by the demands that the Blind Sheikh be released, and that any consideration of such a request was inspired by an effort to quell the widespread anti-American fury.

The letter sent by Representative Pete King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and seven other key members of congressional leadership warned of the consequences of appeasing terrorism through such a blatant act of submission:

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength….The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is – a sign of weakness and a lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

In addition to Rep. King, the letter was signed by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith; House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers; House Committee on Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon; House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers; House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Chairman Frank Wolf; and House Appropriations Subcommittee on State of Foreign Operations Chairwoman Kay Granger.

The administration has not yet formally responded to the letter, according to Rep. King’s communications officer.

The full text of the congressional letter follows.

September 19, 2012

The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Clinton,

We are concerned about recent reports that the Obama administration is considering the release of Omar Abdel-Rahman, better known as the “blind sheikh,” to the custody of Egypt for humanitarian and health reasons.  If these reports are true, such considerations would be extremely disconcerting as release of this convicted terrorist should not happen for any reason.

The blind sheikh inspired the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, ordered the 1997 massacre of Western tourists at Luxor, Egypt, and issued the Islamic religious ruling that Osama bin Laden relied upon to justify the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.  He is serving a life sentence at a federal penitentiary, for seditious conspiracy to wage war upon the United States, based on his role in a 1993 plot to conduct assassinations and destroy bridges, tunnels and other landmarks in New York City.  The blind sheikh was the first person convicted under this statute since the Civil War. Nonetheless, the newly-elected government in Egypt has indicated that his release is amongst its top foreign policy priorities.

While considerations regarding the blind sheikh’s release would be disturbing in any context, they are particularly alarming given recent events.  The 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks was marked by the assassination of America’s ambassador to Libya and an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. The violence in Egypt has been attributed, in part, to that government’s demands for the blind sheikh’s release.

Succumbing to the demands of a country whose citizens threaten our embassy and the Americans serving in it would send a clear message that acts of violence will be responded to with appeasement rather than strength.  The blind sheikh should remain in federal prison.

The release of Abdel-Rahman or any terrorist who plots to kill innocent Americans would be seen for what it is — a sign of weakness and lack of resolve by the United States and its President.

We request a briefing this week by representatives from each of your Departments on the accuracy of recent reports and the status of any negotiations with Egypt.  We look forward to your immediate response.

Israeli Company Wins Tender to Build Milk Parlors for Belarus

4 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

An Israeli company has won a 12 million-euro tender with the Belarusian government to build 135 advanced cow milking parlors across the country.

The Israeli dairy herd management firm AfiMilk will help Belarus bring its dairy system up to European standards following Russia’s decision to stop purchasing Belarusian dairy products due to violations of its packaging laws.  The decision was a major blow to the Belarusian dairy industry, which previously exported 95% of its dairy to Russia.

The systems will include all the necessary hardware, as well as computer software to mange the cattle.

AfiMilk is jointly owned by SAE from Kibbutz Afikim in the northern Jordan Valley, and Israeli private equity investment group Fortissimo Capital.  AfiMilk technologies are in use in 50 countries across the world.

The company won a gargantuan tender in China a month ago to build milking parlors for 50,000 cows at a price of $500 million.

Prisoner Exchanged for Gilad Shalit Returning to Prison

4 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

One of the 1,027 terrorists released last year in exchange for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit will return to jail to finish his previously set term.

Ali Jumah Ali Zidat was found in Israel illegally, and is suspected of planning to commit another terror attack in the country.

Zidat was released in December 2011 as part of the second stage of the Shalit deal and has not been convicted of direct involvement in the death of Israelis, but rather conspiracy and aiding other terrorists who committed the murder of Israelis.

Zidat is the first Shalit-deal terrorist to be sent back to prison.

Russia Evicts USAID

4 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

The Russian government has evicted the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), according to the US State Department, accusing the organization of using its money to influence elections.

The US denied the claim.

Nearly 60 percent of the $50 million annual budget of USAID has been allocated to promoting democracy in Russia, with some of the money funding Russia’s only independent election monitoring organization, Golos, which has accused Putin’s party of voting fraud.

In a victory speech given by Vladimir Putin in March, the Russian president said his country “showed that our people can distinguish between the desire for renewal and political provocation that has but one goal: to destroy Russia’s statehood and usurp power”.

Putin has decried Russian NGOs accepting US aid as “jackals”.

Iran: Saboteurs Infiltrated IAEA, Blew Up Nuke Power Lines

4 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

Iran’s nuclear chief said the country’s nuclear program had been attacked twice by elements related to the U.S. military.

Iran’s vice president and the chief of its nuclear-energy agency Fereydoun Abbasi said that power lines between the holy city of Qom and the underground Fordow nuclear centrifuge facility as well as other lines leading to the Natanz facilities were blown up with explosives in August.

He claimed that ‘Terrorists and saboteurs might have intruded the agency and might be making decisions covertly’ in an effort to derail Iran’s atomic program.

Speaking at the IAEA’s 155-nation general conference, Abbasi declared that Iran is determined to protect its interests against such assaults.

Abbasi added that IAEA inspectors turned up to inspect an underground enrichment plant soon after its power lines had been blown up. He asked: “Does this visit have any connection to that detonation?”

Civilized Rage

4 Tishri 5773 – September 20, 2012

In the midst of a sea of volatile rage—much of it well orchestrated—that’s sweeping the Muslim world over all the little slights that make Muslims angry – here’s something unusual: a group of Muslim Thai demonstrators outside the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, Thailand, last Tuesday.

They’re probably just as upset as any Muslim over the movie clip that depicts their prophet as a skirt chasing pedophile (which brings to mind a guy running after children in skirts – it should be, really, a skirt chaser and a pedophile) – but they don’t burn stuff, they don’t scale the embassy walls, they promote love for Muhammad instead, standing in the rain with “We Heart Muhammad” signs.

I’m certain that even the prophet himself would have been proud to see his disciples behaving with such maturity in the face of adversity. I’m sure he would have interrupted whatever skirt chasing or pedophiling he was engaged in at the time to wave to them enthusiastically.

Yesterday I asked one of our cartoonists for a cute Muhammad toon, just to keep up with events, and she declined politely. Not for fear for her own safety, she said, she lives in a civilized country where it’s OK to make fun of historic figures. But she was worried that somewhere a Jew could be hurt because of something she will have drawn.

She was right, of course, and how very sad a state of affairs is that?

5,000 Housing Unit Lots for Sale Across Israel

3 Tishri 5773 – September 19, 2012

The Ministry of Housing and Construction and the Israel Land Authority have announced that land will be market across the country for 5,000 housing units.  The Housing Ministry said it hopes to bring the total number of new housing units this year to 35,000, as it did in 2010 and 2011.

New lands on the market include lots for 2,3000 apartments in Haifa and its suburbs, 30 in the Druze town of Dalyat al-Carmel, 96 in Yokneam, 1,150 in Afula, Rosh Pina, Katzrin, and Kiryat Shmona, as well as property in Ashdod, Ashkelon, Kiryat Malachi, and Beit Shemesh.

Closed: The Last Synagogue in Egypt

29 Elul 5772 – September 16, 2012

Fears for the future of religious minorities in Egypt were accentuated earlier this month when it was announced that the last synagogue in the country would be closed down. The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, which had operated in Alexandria, was the last functioning center of Jewish life in the country. It is now clear that its cavernous halls, built in the nineteenth century, will not be open to worshippers hoping to mark Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services this year.

Traditionally, the synagogue has been managed by an Israeli rabbi of Egyptian descent who frequently returns to the country to lead services there. Although there are many synagogues around Egypt, the one in Alexandria is the only active one, the others having been turned into tourist sites.

This year, as Rabbi Avraham Dayan was making preparations for the High Holidays he was told that the Egyptian authorities could not guarantee the safety and security of those wanting to attend the synagogue.

Dayan told Ynet:

This year there have been some violent demonstrations in Alexandria, and they [sic] are afraid to take responsibility over people…We are trying to organize a quorum, but because of the security-related situation we are not really succeeding. We are still in touch with the Egyptian security organizations and are trying to make some progress.

Sectarian tensions across Egypt have been heightened ever since last year’s revolution, with Christian minorities bearing the brunt of the violence.

One of the unintended consequences of the Arab Spring is the guarantee of security – long assured by the region’s old dictators; it has been cast away by the tide of popular unrest sweeping the region.

The power vacuum and instability caused by the overthrow of Mubarak empowered Salafist and Brotherhood activists who increasingly stoke sectarian tensions.

Last October, when Christian activists took to the streets of Cairo to protest their mistreatment, they were first involved in scuffles with radical Islamists before the army moved in. During the resulting crackdown, more than 25 Christian protesters were killed and more than 300 injured. It marked one of the most bloody and shameful sectarian episodes in Egypt’s recent history.

A Copt protester, Alfred Younan, told Reuters:

Why didn’t they do this with the Salafists or the Muslim Brotherhood when they organized protests? This is not my country any more.

This kind of instability has meant the Jewish presence in Egypt has steadily declined over much of the last century, and has now dwindled to just a handful in Cairo and Alexandria. A study by Stanley Urman of Jews for Justice from Arab Countries has found that this exodus started with the first Nationality Code in Egypt, passed in May 1926.

The Code stipulated that an Egyptian born to a ‘foreign” father – even if the father had been born in Egypt and had been previously recognized as Egyptian – was only able to claim citizenship if the father could prove that he:

…belonged racially to the majority of the population of a country whose language is Arabic or whose religion is Islam.

This law effectively blocked Jews from claiming Egyptian citizenship and relegated them to a lesser legal status in their own country. Later, because the Jews were not officially Egyptian, the government was able to expel a number of them.

This problem was accentuated in 1947, when amendments were passed which stipulated that at least 75% of administrative employees in any company had to by Egyptian, while 90% of the overall workforce also had to be Egyptian. This, of course, struck against Jewish commerce in the country, placed stifling strictures on some of their business, and accelerated the departure of more Jews.

The news that Egypt’s last synagogue, the Eliyahu Hanavi, will now be unable to hold services effectively brings an end to any remaining semblance of Jewish life in Egypt. This is something which should concern not just Jews, but Muslims too, as it epitomises growing intolerance and persecution of a minority. Where religious fanatics have started by persecuting minorities, it has not been long before they turned on their own, accusing them of irreligiousness, heresy and insidious betrayal. The religious freedoms of all Egyptians are in peril.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Postcard from Israel – Hatzav

29 Elul 5772 – September 16, 2012

Drimia Maritima, or the Sea Squill, is known in Hebrew as Hatzav (from the word Hatzeva; quarrying, hewing or tunnelling) probably due to the ability of its long roots to penetrate cracks in rocks, and even widen them, in order to reach water or damp ground.

In Israel, this tall, impressive plant – which flowers right at the end of the summer when all the rest of the vegetation is dry and yellowed – brings with it the message of cooler autumn weather, the start of a new school year and the approaching holidays of Rosh HaShana (new year), Yom Kippur and Succot.

From late August until October the Hatzav can be seen all over the country; from the Negev Desert in the south to the Golan Heights in the north, by roadsides and even in places where summer brush fires have scorched all other vegetation.

The Hatzav is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as a plant used to mark the borders of agricultural plots and in modern-day Israel, its status as a symbol of the changing seasons has also earned it a place in Israeli popular music, including Naomi Shemer’s Cmo Hatzav and Tislam’s “Hatzavim Porhim“, sung here by its composer Izhar Ashdot.

Visit Cifwatch.com.

Photo Essay: Palestinians Protest

29 Elul 5772 – September 15, 2012

Arabs in Gaza, Jerusalem, Yafo and the Israeli territories protested against America, free speech, and the “Innocence” movie. From Al Qaida supporting Salafists to Hamas, the entire range of Palestinian culture was represented on Friday’s protests across the country.

A group of Israeli hikers, who every Friday hike around a different area of the country, had stones thrown at them by 20 Palestinians near Beit Hagai. No hiker was injured.

It’s My Opinion: Precautions

27 Elul 5772 – September 13, 2012

A dear friend recently shared a family story. Her grandfather had come to America before World War II to test the prospects of relocating his family in the new country.

Before grandfather left Hungary, he had heard whispers of what was happening in Europe. He assumed the stories were exaggerated. The accounts were hard to accept. After all, it was the 20th century in a civilized world. What kind of delirium was this?

Grandfather knew there was always some vestige of anti-Semitism floating around, but he felt that the most recent wave would pass. He could not believe there was any grave danger.

It is human nature for decent people to have trouble accepting the existence of indecent evil. Ugly reality is often met with denial. It just doesn’t seem possible.

Life in America had many unexpected trials and difficulties. The streets were not paved with gold. Grandfather returned home. He and nearly all of his family perished in the Holocaust.

Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel incidents continue to take place throughout the world. What else is new? We hope this wave will pass.

The Jewish community is now preparing to celebrate the new year and high holiday season. There will be large groupings of Jews, gathered together and potentially vulnerable, attending services in synagogues.

My dear Jewish brothers and sisters, what are the security precautions in your synagogues and neighborhoods? What safeguards are in place in your children’s schools and yeshivot? Does your family have a plan in case of emergency?

It is forbidden to rely on miracles. We have an obligation to visit the doctor, take medicine, drive with care, look before we cross and certainly to take measures in order to ensure security.

It is difficult to wrap our heads around the idea that there could be danger lurking. Yet every life is valuable and even a small incident can be devastating to those who are involved.

Pay attention. Take preventive measures. Have a contingency plan, and then sit back and have beautiful and safe yom tovim. Shanah tovah!

Obama Apologizing for Egypt’s Failure to Protect our Embassy

27 Elul 5772 – September 13, 2012

Visit Barry Rubin’s blog, Rubin Reports.

Egypt tells us everything we need to know about the horror of Obama’s Middle East policy. The latest development is that a group of several Salafist and Jihadist groups–including the local affiliate of al-Qaida–announced a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy. This was explained as a protest against some obscure film made in America by a crackpot that criticizes Islam but has never actually been shown to an audience and probably never will be!

But note well that everyone–except the Western media–understands that holding such a demonstration on September 11 means supporting the September 11 attack. The Egyptian government knew the time of the demonstration and the participants–it was all publicly announced–yet Egyptian security forces did not protect the embassy.

And so the demonstrators scaled the wall, entered the compound, tore up the American flag, and put up the historic revolutionary flag of Islam (the eighth century black, not the seventh century green one) in its stead. Why didn’t Egyptian security forces stop them? It was a deliberate decision no doubt taken at the highest level.

Rather than expose the phony excuse for the demonstration and condemn the Egyptian government’s behavior, the U.S. government groveled. It issued statements in English apologizing for the fact that someone had exercised his right of free speech within its country. The tweets it sent out in Arabic were even worse, pitiful pleas of the we-are-on-your-side-against-this-terrible-Islamophobia variety. And will Egypt’s failure to protect the embassy–because it is on the side of America’s enemies–have any effect on the Obama Administration’s helping the Egyptian government get two German submarines (against Israel’s efforts); take $1 billion off Egypt’s debt; and have a nice meeting with the visiting Egyptian president (while refusing to meet Israel’s prime minister, this supposedly super-pro-Israel president)? You know the answer.

This is a policy of institutionalized cowardice unprecedented in U.S. history.

Last week, the U.S. government asked its good buddy Egyptian President al-Mursi to inspect an Iranian ship suspected of carrying arms to Syria while it passed through the Suez Canal. Remember that to do so is arguably in Egypt’s own interest since Cairo is supporting the rebels while Tehran backs the regime. But it is also possible that the U.S. government blundered, or was badly timed, since international agreements dictate that Egypt is not supposed to inspect ships in the Canal itself. The Egyptian government despite three decades of massive U.S. aid, licensing to produce advanced American tanks and other equipment, strategic backing, and an invitation to Washington to meet Obama—refused to help out, since he possibly could have done it outside of the canal itself.  Indeed, al-Mursi headed for Tehran to attend a “non-aligned” conference, albeit admittedly one with broad international support.

Did I mention that the al-Mursi government is about to retire 70 generals? Get it? Just as the Islamist government broke the Turkish army because Obama would not back America’s old allies, now the Egyptian Islamist government is going to break Egypt’s army. Who will replace these generals? Two types: opportunists and Islamists. [Here’s a good analysis of the army situation.] And then the army will be completely transformed. And then the state Islamic institutions, And then the courts.

Meanwhile the Western media and U.S. government will stand by and not comprehend a fundamental transformation unfolding before their eyes. Or will they comprehend it but think that it is a good thing? The first possibility is total incompetence and ideological blindness. The second possibility approaches the equivalent of criminal conduct in the destruction of U.S. interests, not to mention democracy, human rights, and the maintenance of peace.

Did I mention that the al-Mursi government is installing several Brotherhood leaders as provincial governors, members of the media council, and–yes, they do have a sense of humor–leaders of human rights’ commissions? And now al-Mursi is controlling what is going to be in Egypt’s new constitution, too.

As I noted previously:

Does this mean Egypt will ally with Iran? Only if Iran surrenders to radical Sunni Islamism ruling every Arab state. Since Tehran will never agree, in the end Egypt will fight Iran for influence tooth and nail. The two anti-American countries will kill the others’ surrogates. But it means al-Mursi feels no friendlier toward America than he does toward Iran. And Cairo will not lift a finger to help Washington against Tehran unless by doing so the Egyptian Brotherhood advances its own cause of putting more Sunni Islamists (anti-Americans, of course) into power.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/obama-apologies-for-egypts-failure-to-protect-the-embassy/2012/09/13/

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